Living With Polio


I think that reading a good book while reclining is one of the great pleasures in life. But having to hold the book can detract from the experience, especially if the book is hardcover. So how about listening to the book instead?

There are two ways to enjoy audio books inexpensively. You can drive to the library, search the shelves and hope you find what you want from their limited selection of audio books, then bring them home. Of course you have to drive back to return them two or three weeks later.

A much easier way is to enroll with your local Talking Books Library. This is a free library service that is available to U.S. residents and citizens living abroad whose visual or physical handicap makes it difficult for them to read standard printed material. The program is administered by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress.

Reading materials and playback machines are sent to borrowers and returned to libraries by postage-free mail. The special cassette machines use 4-track audiocassettes which provide up to six hours of listening time. The machines have special features for ease of use by people with limited visual, mobility, and manual dexterity impairments. Hearing-impaired readers may be eligible for an auxiliary amplifier to use with headphones.

Materials include full-length books and magazines, among other things. Books are selected on the basis of their appeal to people with a wide range of interests and include bestsellers, biographies, fiction, and how-to books among many others. A limited number of titles are in Spanish. Lists of new books are mailed to all registered borrowers every two months. Also check your library for free audio materials that are immediately downloadable.

I used to volunteer with the Talking Books Library here in Fresno. My job was to input new titles into the computer, so I can attest to the fact that there are thousands of titles to select from, with new ones coming in all the time.

Ask your local public librarian for more information about the program and how to apply for service. Information is also available on computer diskette or recorded cassette upon request or on the Internet at

© 2008 Grace R. Young
Courtesy of Diane Young and Sharon Lark.

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